Massachusetts Academy of Math & Science took home first-place honors in both the team and individual categories at the 25th Annual Invitational Mathematics Meet held recently at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).
Mass Academy, founded in 1992, is a public school in Worcester serving academically advanced youth in the 11th and 12th grades in math, science, and technology. The academy is a collaborative effort of WPI, the commonwealth of Massachusetts and high schools in the state.
The winning team was composed of seniors Barry Biletch, Dhroova Aiylam, and Anish Athalye, and junior John Long. Mass Academy competed against 89 public and private schools throughout New England.
Aiylam, of Shrewsbury, and Tony Zhang, a sophomore from The Hotchkiss School of Lakeville, Conn., tied for first place in the individual competition. Nearly 400 students participated in the event.
As co-winners of the individual competition, Aiylam and Zhang each received a $3,000 scholarship to WPI if they choose to attend, a plaque, and a gift card. The other Mass Academy first-place team winners received $1,000 scholarships to WPI, a plaque commemorating their efforts as well as WPI sweatshirts.
Michael Barney, director of Mass Academy, praised the efforts of the students. "We're all very proud of the Academy team for bringing home first place," said Barney. "The students and teachers here really have a deep passion for math. When you have passion and enthusiasm for something, that really makes a difference."
Mass Academy math teacher Tom Regele, who accompanied the students to the meet, also cited the Academy's curriculum of applied mathematics as a driving force behind the success. "We combine topics in math and study real-world situations using mathematical models," he said.
For example, Regele said, students can data-mine crime statistics or population data and then determine – based on the relationships – whether to use linear, quadratic, or some other model to determine where the trends are headed.
"Those are four really special kids," added Regele. "I knew going in to the meet that we had a team capable of taking first place in the competition, and they did it. It was an outstanding effort."
John Goulet, a WPI math professor and director of the Math Meet Committee, said the event serves as reaffirmation of WPI's commitment to K-12 outreach.
"We’re encouraging young, bright minds to excel in mathematics," said Goulet. "WPI is responding to the nation's workforce needs calling for individuals with strong quantitative skills."
The Hotchkiss School placed second in the team competition. "We were thrilled to compete against some of the top schools in the area," said Nina Otterson, math teacher and math team coach for The Hotchkiss School. "This is a good test for our students, who really enjoy the competition."
In addition to Zhang, Hotchkiss team members were sophomore Louis Cai and seniors Leo Lou and Hwijae Shin.
Rounding out the top 10 team winners were Lexington High School, Advanced Math & Science Academy of Marlborough, Worcester Academy, Canton High School, Westborough High School, Marianapolis Preparatory School in Thompson, Conn., Northfield Mount Hermon in Gill, and Buckingham Browne & Nichols in Cambridge.